Global Exchange staff with fellow Bay Area activists at the Global Frackdown San Francisco action. Photo Credit: Global Exchange

On Saturday September 22nd, activists from around the Bay Area gathered in San Francisco next to the iconic Golden Gate bridge for a rally and march to voice one powerful, shared message: BAN FRACKING NOW

What is fracking?

Fracking (or hydraulic fracturing) is a process of drilling for oil and natural gas from shale rock underneath the earth’s surface. A high-pressure mixture of toxic chemicals, water, and sand is injected deep underground.

Communities worldwide are concerned about the effects of fracking on their health, land, and water. While it is happening in 34 states across the country (where in some communities residents can actually light their tap water on fire), it is currently unregulated in California, with no warning to communities.

It was a Global Frackdown!

The action on Saturday was part of a series of events worldwide called the Global Frackdown organized by Food & Water Watch to raise public awareness around fracking and the dangers it poses to our communities, land, water, and health.

In solidarity with people from nearly every corner of the globe, from Australia to Canada to France to South Africa, people came out in numbers on Saturday to call for an end to fracking and to make it clear to oil and gas companies that we know about the dangers of fracking and we do not want it to happen in our communities.

What happened in San Francisco?

Bay Area Global Frackdown activists gathered by the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco on Saturday morning, the sun was shining and the sky was clear – a rare site for that part of the city at 10am. After enjoying coffee and bagels as people arrived, organizers from environmental and social justice organizations throughout the Bay Area including, Earth Works, and the Center for Biological Diversity, took turns speaking about their work and the importance of banning fracking.

Global Exchange’s Kylie Nealis, Shannon Biggs, Carleen Pickard, and Jessica Nuti at the Global Frackdown SF action. Photo Credit: Global Exchange

Global Exchange’s Community Rights Program Director Shannon Biggs spoke about our work assisting communities throughout California to pass rights-based ordinances that elevate the rights of citizens over oil and gas drilling companies and enable them to say ‘NO’ to fracking where they live. The path for these cutting-edge new laws has already been paved by places such as Pittsburgh, PA, where the city passed a rights-based ordinance banning fracking in 2010.

You can watch Shannon’s speech here:

Activists march to the Golden Gate bridge

Activists march to the Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco

The energy was high throughout the morning and one thing was clear: this is the beginning of a movement against fracking in California that is only going to get bigger. There is no such thing as safe fracking and yet, it is happening unregulated throughout California with no warning. In fact, a recent poll by the Los Angeles Times showed that 46% of Californians don’t actually know what fracking is.

Those of us working on fracking here at Global Exchange know that the long-term solution to banning fracking lies in changing our structure of law to elevate the rights of communities (and nature) above corporations — but the first step is getting the word out and that’s exactly what the Global Frackdown achieved.